De Bruyne rocket fires City | The Daily Star
02:00 PM, September 27, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:13 PM, September 27, 2017

De Bruyne rocket fires City

Coutinho scores as Liverpool held in Moscow

Kevin De Bruyne's superb strike and a late Raheem Sterling goal maintained Manchester City's impressive form in a 2-0 Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

De Bruyne struck in the 49th minute with a magnificent 20-yard strike into the top right-hand corner of the Shakhtar goal after David Silva's run had ended with the Spaniard teeing up the opening.

It was the Belgian's first goal of City's free-scoring season - a reflection of his new, deeper role under Pep Guardiola - but certainly a goal worth waiting for given its quality.

Although City striker Sergio Aguero failed with a penalty, Sterling's 89th minute finish from 12 yards, after a sprint and cross from fellow substitute Bernardo Silva, spared his team-mate's blushes and wrapped up the points at Eastlands.

Aguero could have doubled the lead, and equalled City's club record of 177 goals currently held by Eric Brook in the 1930s, after Leroy Sane was brought down by Ivan Ordets after 71 minutes.

But Aguero hit his spot kick too close to goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov who dived smartly to his right to keep out the effort.

"The first half we had a few problems as we didn't make enough passes in a row," Guardiola said.

"The second half was much, much better. A lot of credit to my players for today.

"Even in that situation, at 1-0, we were stable."

A game which featured eight Brazilians - five of them from Shakhtar - and just three English players predictably provided plenty of entertainment and admirable football, even if goals were hard to come by.

Both sides had good opportunities to break the first half deadlock, Shakhtar's best falling to the Brazilian Fred on 11 minutes as he appeared on the end of a flowing move to ghost clean through on goal, only for countryman Fernandinho to make a superb covering tackle.

There was also a firm strike from Marlos who forced City goalkeeper Ederson into the game's first meaningful save as he dived sharply to his right.

- Breathtaking -

But most of the other promising moments came from the hosts, looking unstoppable in a recent five-game spell which had seen them score 22 goals.

De Bruyne, one of many of the crop of City stars in a rich vein of form, unexpectedly missed the target, shooting wide after a Gabriel Jesus pass had slipped him through.

And Sane first tested Pyatov with a low shot from the edge of the area then worked his way skilfully through a couple of unconvincing challenges before rolling a shot inches wide of the far upright.

As the half ended, it might have appeared that City's record of never having experienced a goalless draw in the 37 Champions League group stage fixtures was under threat.

But it took just three minutes of the second half for De Bruyne to ensure the streak would continue, a development that opened up the contest even further.

Sane soon tested Pyatov with a darting run and near-post shot and it looked as if Aguero was destined to edge a goal closer the record, when Silva's breathtaking chip forward offered up a volley which the Argentinian struck directly at the keeper.

There might have been more glory for De Bruyne, after another penetrating run down the left from Sane, but this time defender Ismaily managed to block his long-range effort.

De Bruyne almost turned provider after 69 minutes with an enterprising run down the right and perfect cross which substitute Sterling side-footed wide on the volley.

Aguero and Sane, twice, came close in the closing stages although the hosts also had to survive a strong penalty appeal from Shakhtar after the ball appeared to strike John Stones' arm.

Coutinho scores as Liverpool held in Moscow

A sparkling Philippe Coutinho goal was not enough to earn Liverpool victory as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Coutinho cancelled out Fernando's free-kick in the 31st minute, but Liverpool's quest for a winner came to nothing, leaving them still without a win after two games in Group E.

Liverpool have now gone seven matches without victory in the Champions League -- their longest such run in the competition -- and trail group leaders Sevilla by two points.

"In this moment we're not the most lucky team in world football. Things don't go easy for us," said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

"We did well to create chances against a very defence-oriented team. We didn't give away many chances for them. The free-kick for their goal was not a foul.

"In the Champions League group stage, the only target is to go through to the next round. That's now possible for us. There were a lot of good things tonight."

Five-time champions Liverpool paid the price for some wasteful finishing, substitute Daniel Sturridge and Mohamed Salah both spurning good chances to secure victory in the closing stages.

On the plus side, Klopp's men looked more solid defensively than in recent weeks, but Fernando's goal raised questions about the decision to bring goalkeeper Loris Karius into the team in place of Simon Mignolet.

While Russian champions Spartak have gone nine games without victory in the Champions League, this was a result to warm the hearts of their vocal fans on a chilly night at Otkrytiye Arena.

"This is a draw against a very strong opponent," said Spartak's Italian coach Massimo Carrera.

"You know all about the power of Liverpool. It's always difficult to defend for the whole match against such a team. We had some of our own chances, but we weren't precise enough with the final pass."

From a Liverpool perspective, the match was notable for the fact Coutinho started alongside Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino for the first time.

- Rebrov injured -

With their 'Fab Four' on the pitch, the visitors settled quickly and twice went close to taking the lead.

Trent Alexander-Arnold volleyed wide from Salah's lay-off and Firmino drew an agile save from Artem Rebrov with a forceful header.

But Coutinho's first telling intervention was to give away the free-kick that led to Spartak's 23rd-minute opener.

The Brazilian came through the back of Aleksandr Samedov and his compatriot Fernando swept the set-piece past a flat-footed Karius from 25 yards.

Liverpool have kept only two clean sheets in their 11 games to date this season.

Thankfully for Liverpool, Coutinho had the good grace to atone, a sudden burst of energy seeing him swap passes with Mane on the left before placing a shot into the roof of Rebrov's net.

Coutinho has scored in successive games since being brought back into the team following his unsuccessful attempt to engineer a move to Barcelona.

Liverpool twice squandered chances to go ahead before the break, Firmino miscuing from Jordan Henderson's cross and then a 4 v 2 situation breaking down when Mane strayed offside.

Coutinho worked Rebrov with a free-kick early in the second half, but even after the Spartak goalkeeper was forced off by injury, with Aleksandr Selikhov replacing him, the visitors could not find a path to goal.

Andrei Eschenko served a reminder of Spartak's threat with a drilled effort that Karius boxed away.

Klopp added Sturridge and Georginio Wijnaldum to the mix and saw teenage full-back Alexander-Arnold thrash wide with his left foot after cutting in from the right.

His side procured two golden opportunities to snatch victory at the death, but Sturridge slashed a volley over from Henderson's cross and Salah could not beat Selikhov with a header from Alexander-Arnold's cross.

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